‘More harm than good’: How well-meaning urban beekeepers can jeopardize wild colonies

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Urban beekeeping has grown so trendy that it may be doing more harm than good — with the practice becoming unsustainable in certain areas, a study has warned. The ‘World’s Plants and Fungi 2020’ report from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said that cities like London now have too many hives for the available nectar and pollen.

Bee colonies rely on having ready access to flowering plants, shrubs and trees to survive and stay healthy. The experts warned that honey bees can monopolize flowers and outcompete wild colonies — along with accidentally spreading disease to these ‘cousins’ as well.

‘This revelation will surprise many who think that keeping bees is a great thing for the environment,’ said Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew researcher Phil Stevenson.

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‘Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case. The public need to be much more aware of the importance of pollinator diversity and how organisms interact, so that we can conserve all urban wildlife more effectively.’

The report highlighted the importance of wildlife such as bees to city trees — many of which depend on pollination by animals and which are cities’ ‘unsung heroes’.

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